In 2018, primary energy intensity – an important indicator of how much energy is used by the global economy – improved by 1.2%, the slowest rate since 2010. This was slower than the 1.7% improvement in 2017 and marked the third year in a row the rate has declined.1 It was also well below the average 3% improvement consistent with the IEA Efficient World Strategy. The slowdown represents a lost opportunity. For example, although the 1.2% improvement in energy intensity meant that the world generated USD 1.6 trillion (United States dollars) more GDP for the amount of energy used compared to 2017, this figure would have been USD 4 trillion, an amount close to the size of the German economy, had energy intensity improved at 3% every year since 2015.
The slowdown in global energy efficiency improvement prompted the convening of the Global Commission for Urgent Action on Energy Efficiency to bring together national leaders, ministers, top business executives and global thought leaders to consider how to accelerate global progress on energy efficiency.